After the well-deserved Oscar success of his previous film Birdman, director Alejandro González Iñárritu is back with The Revenant. Based in part on Michael Punke’s 2002 book The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge. Which tells the true story of 19th-century fur trapper Hugh Glass, who is left for dead by his fellow frontiersman after being viciously attacked by a grizzly bear.
Iñárritu again collaborates with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and with breathtaking results. Filmed in only natural light, the stunning scenery becomes an additional character and truly deserves a watch on the big screen in order to experience the true scope of the punishing terrain.
With many predicting this is the performance that will finally win the Oscar that has long eluded Leonardo DiCaprio, it’s safe to say he would have earned it. From plunging into frozen rivers, sleeping in an animal carcass and eating raw bison liver, DiCaprio definitely poured everything he had into this role and I felt exhausted just watching him. He plays Hugh Glass, in an incredibly physical and emotional performance in which every struggle is felt, as he scratches and crawls his way to the end credits.
DiCaprio is in good company with a consistently superb Tom Hardy in a supporting role as John Fitzgerald, a sly and deceitful fellow hunter. Domhnall Gleeson, who has had a flourish of major roles in the past year is impressive as a stern Captain Andrew Henry and Will Poulter also quietly impresses as Jim Bridger, a younger hunter who shows naivety and compassion as events unfold.
The Revenant doesn’t feel overly long but does feel slightly repetitive in places. However, the film overcomes this with its staggering scale, immersive nature and first-class performances across the board.